A hangi, music and a performance kickstarted fundraising efforts for kapa haka group Hokianga's trip to the nationals next year.
The Hokianga Community Hall in Rawene was packed with residents keen to help the area's senior group get to Rotorua in February.
Nore Martin is Rawene's police officer and he is also the senior kapa haka group's tutor.
It includes members from as far away as Ashburton and Auckland.
Mr Martin and his wife returned to the area from Auckland and started the group last October.
"It's a new group but a lot of performers have been in different groups over the years and have come from different backgrounds in kapa haka," he says.
" Some who have never done it before are loving it.
"Our purpose really is just to get a strong senior team up and running and try to filter that down to our younger generations, to be a role model or an influence on our secondary students in the area."
The last time the area was represented at nationals was in 2000 and Mr Martin was in that team.
"We didn't do that well at all," he says.
But going to the nationals was an "awesome" experience.
Before that a Hokianga area team took part in the mid-1990s.
"Teams come and go but we're hoping this one will stay strong - it's carrying the name Hokianga."
Qualifying has helped the group to build momentum and has other positive benefits for the community, he says.
"It's like another wider whanau really. It brings us closer together."
Mr Martin says taking the group of 50 to Rotorua is expected to cost about $50,000.
They aren't yet close to that goal but the team has a few ideas and this event, importantly, wasn't organised by the team but by the community it hopes to represent.
"It was choice," Mr Martin says.
And it's important they cast their net wide, he says.
"You've got the north and south sides of the harbour and quite often they remain separated.
"When you bring people together for things like this, the team anyway, you're building a lot of connections on both sides of the harbour.
"We're all pretty much related anyway. North and south - we all come from the same ancestors somewhere along the line.
"We are reasonably close to one another, so it's a good chance to get to know each other and make the team stronger. It's Hokianga, full stop."
The team went to the Tai Tokerau regionals in April and qualified third in its first time competing as a group.
For the competition, the group will get together every three weeks starting in September to prepare.
Until then though those in the area will keep up the momentum and that's a good thing for the entire community, he says.
“It raises the community spirit a little bit and I suppose for me in my professional role that's not a bad thing.”
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